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Saturday, July 06, 2013

Life is Meaningless? Part 3


Ecclesiastes 2:1-11

Pleasures Are Meaningless


1 I thought in my heart, "Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good." But that also proved to be meaningless. 2 "Laughter," I said, "is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?" 3 I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly--my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives. 4 I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. 5I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me.8 I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well--the delights of the heart of man. 9 I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. 10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. 11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.
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This guy went after the pleasures of his day like a junk yard dog:

Hearty Laughter. Strong Spirits. Recreational Folly. Great Projects. New Houses. Bumper Vineyards. Gorgeous Gardens. Walking Parks. Fruit Orchards. Water Reservoirs. Hired Servants. Animal Herds. Shimmering Silver. Glittering Gold. Treasure Trunks. Glorious Singers. Beautiful Harems.

He described his binge by saying "I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure".  Which is part of what I think takes out the people who have inexhaustible resources...there isn't the appreciation of the experience.  In fact, when you can have steak whenever you want it begins to taste like hamburger.  I've even found that peanuts taste better when I have to work to get the shell off...when I have to fight for the food a little bit.  

We see this phenomenon in Hollywood all the time.  The lives who have want of nothing seem to be insatiably thirsty for something else, someone else, somewhere else. They go through marriages and money like toilet paper trying to find meaning.  When they can't find pure joy in simplicity, they turn to substances to sedate the sting of sadness and sorrow.  Drugs, sex, alcohol...whatever will get the heart racing for the moment.  But the crash on the other side of these temporary fixes leads to thoughts of futility.  

This is where a good many begin to think about ending it all...they've quite literally come to end of themselves though they think they've come to end of life's offerings of ecstasy...quite different.  They've achieved their dream, reached their goal, bagged their babe, and accumulated their stack of stuff...feelings of conquest abound, but the quest is lost.  Now what?  What do I chase after?  What's left to do, see, feel, get, or win?  

I think it's a perfect text to prove the inadequacy of experiences to medicate the heart that longs for meaning.  When we put expectations on even good things asking them to give us what they were never meant to, there will always be missing pieces and missing peace.  Meaning goes missing.  

I look at the list of stuff Solomon chased after and chased down, and aside from slaves and harems, most of the stuff is good when it's put in its proper place.  When you demand created things to give you feelings that are only doled out by the Creator and seek from indulgent luxury what can only be found in temperate simplicity...you will feel like dust in the wind and your story will be one of tragedy.

I relate to the author...meaning is worth all the fuss.  It can't be found in thrills and chills.  It's not the goose bump...it's the God of the goose bump.  It's not the orgasm, it's the Author of the orgasm.  There is no fulfillment without with Filler.  This is when meaning is found...this is where meaning is found.

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